2012-11-30 / Front Page

Simi PD makes two arrests in gang incident

Westside Locos nabbed after confrontation
By Carissa Marsh

Simi Valley Police officers arrested a male juvenile last week and then a Simi man Tuesday in connection with a gang-related assault involving a handgun.

According to the police department, the incident occurred during the early evening of Nov. 20. A resident of the 1000 block of Pacific Avenue flagged down a passing patrol officer and said that three males walking in the neighborhood had confronted him and two of his friends.

During the encounter, police said, one of the subjects had taken out a handgun and placed it against the homeowner’s neck while one of the other subjects identified themselves as members of Westside Locos, a local street gang.

The resident and his friends had no association with any street gang and told their confronters they did not want any trouble.

“No altercation precipitated the incident,” said Sgt. Darin Muehler, supervisor of the Special Problems Section, when asked if the event was random.

The three subjects began walking away, and the primary suspect subsequently fired the handgun into the front yard of an unoccupied home a couple of houses away.

There were no injuries as a result of the firing of the weapon or the initial confrontation, police said.

Officers checked the area for the males in question but were not able to find them.

About an hour later, a park ranger with the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District confronted two subjects for trespassing in Rancho Simi Community Park, 1765 Royal Ave. One ran from the ranger, who was able to detain the other and call for police assistance.

Special Problems Section offi cers arrived to help the ranger and, based on the description provided by the victim of the assault, they identified the detained subject as a possible suspect in the earlier incident.

The victim and witnesses subsequently identified the detainee as the person in possession of the handgun during the Pacific Avenue incident.

Police searched the park area and the wash, as well as the suspect’s home, but did not find the handgun used in the assault.

SPS officers ultimately determined the suspect was a juvenile gang member with a prior felony conviction. The 17-year-old Simi Valley resident was lodged in Ventura County Juvenile Hall on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, negligent discharge of a handgun, felon in possession of a handgun and participating in a criminal street gang.

Muehler said the teen is known to SPS officers.

“He’s like a lot of (gang members)— he’s here in this country illegally and has been on deportation several times,” the sergeant said, adding that ICE has been notified about the teen in the past. “We knew that he was trouble.”

SPS officers continued to investigate the incident and made another arrest Tuesday. Muehler said his unit received information from Ventura County Probation and followed up on the tip, which led to the arrest as well as the recovery of a handgun that officers believe was used in the Pacific Avenue incident.

“We believe this is the gun involved, but we have to do additional investigation and forensics,” Muehler said.

“It matches the description,” Officer Mike Foley added.

The man arrested is transient Adam Troy Reyes, 23, also a member of Westside Locos, police said. Located in the 1500 block of Patricia Avenue, Reyes was wanted on a probation violation, but when officers found him in possession of the gun he was also booked for being a felon in possession of a firearm and participation in a criminal street gang.

The Special Problems Section is still looking for the third subject. Foley said they have a “pretty good idea” who it is.

“An arrest is imminent,” Muehler added.

Is gang activity on the rise?

The Pacific Avenue assault is not the only gang incident to occur in November.

Earlier this month there was a gang-related tagging at Simi Valley High School. Muehler said two other local gangs are responsible: Varrio Simi Valley and Brown Life Familia.

VSV, BLF and Westside Locos are Simi’s three validated gangs, the sergeant said.

The perpetrators hit eight locations on campus, tagging their gang names. Though the vandalism was widespread, the damage was estimated to cost about $300, Muehler said, which is below the threshold for felony vandalism.

No arrests have been made in the tagging.

Muehler couldn’t say whether it was students that committed the act. He said any tagger is going to seek out a location with the highest volume of traffic, and a high school fits the bill.

In addition, a Simi Valley resident spoke out at the Nov. 19 City Council meeting about his son getting beat up by a group of gang members in the wash.

Muehler said his unit investigated the incident but has not made any arrests because the victim is unable to identify his attackers.

He did not know the gang members, and he didn’t get a good look at them, the sergeant said.

“We have a pretty good grasp of who the players are in this town . . . so when something goes down, we have a pretty good idea and we’re good about making arrests,” Muehler said. “But if you can’t get somebody to identify them, there’s not much we can do about it.”

Despite these recent incidents, Muehler said, gang activity overall is not on the rise.

“It’s like anything, there’s ebbs and flows. It’s cyclical,” Muehler said. “In May we had that rash—the stabbing, the shooting, the beatdown in the wash. . . . Prior to that we didn’t have anything for 10 months.”

“This (Pacific Avenue assault) is the first substantial incident,” he continued. “So I wouldn’t say there’s a huge trend, an upshot in gang activity. It has peaks and valleys. You always have the minor stuff like tagging here and there, but when you pull out a handgun, that’s pretty major.”

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